Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is under fire for his handling of the sexual harassment claims against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

After he callously ate pretzels as she tried to tell him that a colleague had raped her, Elizabeth Crothers did not hold back slamming Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in interviews two years later, when it was revealed that the same colleague who raped her had raped another young woman.

The speaker's office apparently sent Crothers a threatening letter in an attempt to shut her up when she started granting interviews vilifying him and her accused rapist, Assembly lawyer Michael Boxley, she told the Daily News.

The threatening letter was sent to her attorney from top assembly lawyer William Collins and appeared to suggest she would be trashed in the press if she did not back off.

 

Collins' letter accused Crothers of lying, and said the interviews she had been doing waived her right to confidentiality under the assembly's sexual harassment policy.

“I am compelled to conclude that Ms. Crothers has chosen to waive whatever protections would otherwise be afforded her by the confidentiality provisions ... of the assembly’s sexual harassment policy,” Collins wrote in the June 30, 2003, letter, according to a copy obtained by the Daily News.

Assembly spokesman Michael Whyland reportedly dismissed the letter as “old communications."

Whyland told Metro that the Speaker's office has not had any communication with Boxley since 2003, when the second accusation came to light.

According to the North Country Gazette, Boxley paid a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of sexual misconduct in 2003. He was also reportedly required to register as a sex offender. In the criminal complaint for that case, the accuser claimed Boxley raped her four times during the early morning hours of June 10, 2003, the North Country Gazette reported. The Gazette said that as part of the deal, four felony rape charges against Boxley, then 44, were dismissed after he admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse with the 22-year-old woman without her consent.

Three years later, the Gazette reported, the Speaker's office paid the woman a $500,000 settlement and modified its sexual harassment policies to require that all written complaints of harassment be kept on file for seven years.

Collins, the lawyer who reportedly sent Crothers the letter on Silver's behalf, also reportedly played an integral role in the confidential settlement arranged by Silver's office with two women who reported being sexually harassed by former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, according to the Daily News.

A recently released 68-page ethics committee report detailed sexual harassment claims against Lopez by several other female staffers. The accusations range from him forcing a staffer to massage his hand after she told him she was raped in college, to staffers contracting pink eye after being made to apply eye drops to Lopez's infected eyes.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat

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